Pastor carries cross for peace in Belfast
A Belfast pastor has responsed to recent violence by walking seven times around Belfast's City Hall carrying a large wooden cross.
Pastor Jack McKee's decision to carry the cross around the political capital was based on the recent removal of the Union Jack from the Belfast City Hall.
The Union Jack, which is also Northern Ireland's flag, as it is part of the United Kingdom - along with Scotland, Wales and England - was removed from the Belfast City Hall 10 days ago.
"Regardless of the rights and the wrongs of the decision to do this, the result has been dozens, if not hundreds, of street protests from the Protestant community that have often resulted in serious violence and riots," McKee told ANS.
In a media release prior to the event, McKee said: "I am not organising an event. I am not calling people onto the streets. I am however doing another cross walk when I will walk around Belfast City Hall '7 Times' while carrying a cross.
"The purpose of the cross walk is to lift the cross in and above the centre of Belfast, to lift it above politics and political institutions, to lift it above violence and the threat of violence, to cause people to focus on the cross as a symbol of peace and reconciliation; to call for an end to the violence and the threat on violence on our streets."
December 14 was a wet and rainy day, but McKee said it was "an honour to lift the cross in Belfast in the midst of tensions, violence and protests".
"My leader knew I was there and gave me permission to do so. My leader's name is Jesus. Thanks for all your prayers, but keep on praying that Belfast will once again emerge from this challenge. Ireland is not just an island, it's his land."
He said the church in Belfast was continuing to witness negative influences attempting to draw the communities back into the abyss of violence.
"Besides this we have had our local politicians falling out as the Union Jack was removed on Monday from our City Hall for the first time in 100 years.
"Regardless of people's opinions, and we all have one, the fact is the removal of the flag is seen as detrimental to the ongoing peace process, and has once again brought people onto the streets that resulted in violence and the injury of police officers.
"So rejoice with us as we experience the move of God among us, and pray that this will continue into an explosion of the presence of God in Belfast and beyond, that Ireland truly would be seen to be his land.
"Pray also that the negative influences will be suppressed and that we will see real peace coming to our city and across Northern Ireland."